Are the snacks you’re buying for your children really healthy? It’s time to start scrutinising those labels.
One thing’s sure when you’re buying snacks for your children – you can’t trust what you read on the label. Manufacturers are well-versed in the art of seducing parents with words, to make us believe that we’re buying something that’s good for our kids.
- A product claiming to be ‘nutritionally equivalent to a portion of fruit’ could also contain a huge range of additives, including sugar and fat, and is likely to clock in at 6 or more times the number of calories of a piece of fresh fruit.
- Labels that trumpet ‘Reduced fat/salt/sugar’ should also be regarded with suspicion. If levels are mega-high to start with, then they’ll still be too high, even when reduced. Look for ‘low ‘ or ‘no’ salt etc on the label, instead.
- Words like ‘pure and natural’ are nothing but empty rhetoric. Industry guidelines, that govern wording on packages are consistently abused by manufacturers, who label cheap, low-quality, additive-ridden food with adjectives like ‘farm fresh’, ‘light’, ‘country goodness’ and so on. Ignore.
- ‘No added sugars’. Sounds good, eh? But there’s more than one way to add sugars – manufacturers simply slosh in fruit juice, which is high in sugar and damaging to teeth. Or else they sweeten the product with artificial sweeteners, which some experts believe should not be given to children.
- Watch out for ‘fruit flavoured’ – these products don’t have to contain any fresh fruit. ‘Fruit drink’ is another deceptive term, often used on products that masquerade as pure juice – until you inspect the small print. Along with the juice, which may not form a very large proportion of the drink, you’ll also find lots of sugar/sweeteners, and possibly other additives as well. Seek out pure juice instead.
Once you are wised up to labels, you’ll find they make interesting – if disconcerting – reading. The bottom line – never believe the claims of a label, until you’ve taken a good, close look for yourself.
Elizabeth Martyn is webmaster at http://healthy-eating-made-easy.com, where she provides information, tips and recipes on using seasonal, fresh ingredients to feed the family healthily and without hassle.
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